Young grad student and self-proclaimed ordinary person (i.e. not a genius or math prodigy) solves the Conway knot problem in one week. What I especially liked about this write-up was how it focused on countering stereotypes about successful mathematicians.

When universities organize math conferences, she says, they should avoid inviting speakers who “give talks where they go really fast and they try to show you how smart they are and how hard their research is. That’s not good for anyone, but it’s especially not good for young people or people who are feeling maybe like they don’t belong here.” What those people in the audience don’t know, she says, is that nobody else really understands it either.

“You don’t have to be really ‘smart’ — whatever that means — to be a successful mathematician,” Piccirillo says. “There’s this idea that mathematicians are geniuses. A lot of them seem to be child prodigies that do these Olympiads. In fact, you don’t have to come from that background at all to be very good at math and most mathematicians, including many of the really great ones, don’t come from that sort of background.”

And as Piccirillo herself proves, some of them even go on to produce work that alters the course of mathematics.